Should I use desktop photo editors or photo editing apps for editing photos?

I recall the days when digital cameras first arrived on the mass market in 1990's. Professional photographers who swore by their costly gear with mind-boggling level of optical wizardry scoffed at digital photography with disdain - and that was well-deserved too because photographs from early digital cameras were not as good. In addition, you could not achieve much quality while shooting or later unless you were a gifted photographer in the first place. 
Digital photography has evolved enormously in the last two decades. Professional photo-editing has also evolved greatly since the initial days of Photoshop. Even more striking is the development of mobile phone apps that can do great things  and without much knowledge of underlying principles. 

photo editing apps and software

Without going into the nostalgia of how the photographic scene has evolved, let me come now to the question we are dealing with in this post, and let me answer the doubts in straight bullets.

Photo editor software vs photo editing apps

If you are a professional photographer and you use mid or high end digital cameras, forget apps for now. Use the professional software that comes with cameras, and professional photo-editing software such as Photoshop or Gimp.
If you use mobile phone for taking pics that you would use for official or serious personal use, you might still want to use professional photo-editing software. You should use the best settings of the mobile phone camera for taking the photo.
If you need to make prints out of photographs, go for professional photo enhancing software such as or Lightroom or Rawtherapee. Even Snapseed, a mobile app from Google, is useful. If you need pixel-level or deep editing, go for Photoshop or Gimp. As for camera, do not depend upon mobile phone cameras at all, especially in these conditions: low-light situations, too much contrast and light variations in the scene, when the print would need to expose fine details. 
Similarly if your photographs need to be exposed on big screens, go for mid or higher end professional cameras. 
If you use mobile phone or low-end pocket camera for taking pics, you are likely taking photographs whenever you find a good scenery, a child smiling, a social gathering, an event, a background or friend fit enough for a selfie and so on. You would see the pics at leisure, share them on social media or use them for profile etc. If so, you can use the effects and enhancements available on the phone app for improving the photos and adding fun effects to them before you use them. There are many good mobile apps available now and you need not look for professional photo editors for photo enhancements and effects.

What are the best available photo editors?

  • Best photo editors for PC/ desktop: Photoshop or Gimp
  • Best photo enhancement software: Lightroom or Rawtherapee
  • Best mobile photo editor app: Snapseed

Does photo editor software win hands on?

I won't say so. You should decide depending upon what is your purpose. You do not need to learn editing for using apps but learning Photoshop etc takes months of learning. Professional cameras cost too much and are bulky while smartphones are easy to carry and serve a thousand other purposes than taking a shot. In most cases, the choice is a compromise between cost, quality and ease. If you are not into quality photography, stick with the smart phone and use its apps for enhancement and effects.
If you are interested in details about photo editing and digital photography, you may like to have a copy of the latest edition of Better Digital Images

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